The first thing you need to do is select your hunt, since not every hunt is going to appeal to every single one of us. Two excellent sources of information about hunts are Hunt SL and Seraphim's weekly hunt survival guide, and the ones I rely on the most. Look at the website for the hunt, they often have preview pictures and describe the theme so you can decide if it sounds like the right fit for your second life. There are hunts geared for kids, men, goth, anime, furries, holidays, mesh bodies, full perm items for designers, home decor, and many more. Some hints only have the landmarks to navigate the hunt on their website, others have the next LM in each prize but the hints are only on the website, so in either case you'll want to leave it open while you are on the hunt path. Be sure to read the hunt rules carefully, as some allow the stores to resize or recolor the objects or have a certain number of decoys in addition to the real prize.
Okay, once you have decided on a hunt, now what? I am eager to try to help with that too, so here are my suggestions in no particular order:
- Look for the hunt sign in the store when you arrive, as there is a good chance of an example of your hunt object being on it. That can help, seeing it up close and personal instead of just a picture on the website. Is it a flat prim? Sculpted? Think about the color/s, and what sort of place would be clever to hide it. It also reaffirms that the store is ready for the hunt and has your prize hidden if they are displaying the hunt's sign, so you do not accidentally waste time searching for something that is not there yet.
- Think about the hint if there is one, and see what it makes you think of. If it is something like "take a seat" for example, you are probably looking for a chair, sofa, stool, or the like. There may be multiple in the store, so be sure to peek under, around, behind, and even check under any cushions on each one to see if your hunt object is there. This is where you really need to have your camera controls active, just click View up top in your viewer then Camera Controls should be checked. You'll see two wheels on your screen, the left will rotate from the focal point and the right will adjust the focal point. Go ahead and experiment with them, and your camera view will reset to normal when you move. Another helpful tip: to get a closer look at something, hold down Alt and click where you want to see, then zoom in with the mouse. I was in SL for a few, maybe several years before someone mentioned that tip in a group and I was thrilled!
- If there is no hint or you aren't certain what it means, start exploring the store and think about where you would hide something if you were the owner. Some shops have very little in the way of decor, while others have lots of shelves or displays where things can easily hide. Corners, behind signs, in plants, on top of statues, sometimes even a store pet is playing with our prize. Just explore and examine, every nook and cranny, and you'll be surprised how eventually you will develop an instinct on where the common hiding places are.
- Make sure you don't have too many HUDs on your screen so you can see as much of the world around you as possible. You can minimize your inventory window, and have the camera controls out of the way (I keep mine up top and center, but not too large) and I keep my mini map open but small in case a hint refers to a direction.
- If you are hunting with a friend, I suggest using voice chat to communicate faster than having to type in your IM window. Xan and I used Skype for years, but it no longer functions for us (they made changes, shrug) so we switched to Discord. Whatever method works for you, voice or text chat, be sure to communicate so you aren't looking in the same exact area or one of you is looking for 5 extra minutes when the other has already found it. The mini map can help you keep track of their little yellow dot, so if they say "Come here!" you can see immediately where here is.
- I have mentioned wireframe, now this is not my particular field of expertise but I can tell you how to access it. Hit ctrl+shift+R all at once, and you will see everything as lines that show you the shape and color. If this doesn't work at first, try opening the Advanced menu with ctrl+alt+D. Some hunt items show up really well, it's like looking for an anomaly so see what looks unusual. *NOTE* Please do not try this for the Twisted Hunt, as some stores purposely put hundreds or thousands of extra cubes inside walls and underground. Xan reminded me that wireframe rarely works for flat prim objects.
- If there is a group for the hunt, they may permit you to ask questions in chat. The Twisted Hunt in particular is very helpful to people who politely request a hint by the store's name and number. The group can also be a good way to be sure a store is ready and has their item hidden for us, either chat or through group notices.
- I cannot stress enough that it is important to be courteous while hunting, or the store owner could be less inclined to take part in future hunts. You could even find yourself banned from a sim if you cause trouble. Please keep in mind that these prizes we are picking up for free or very inexpensively are usually sold for a few hundred lindens, so the designers are doing us a favor by giving us the chance to pick them up so inexpensively. I know that's hard to remember when we get frustrated, but I wouldn't feel right not mentioning that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. In general it is considered bad behavior to complain about free gifts, and the fact that so many people did so is probably why there are so few free hunts these days.